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Death toll in South Korea ferry disaster climbs to 259

By Shelby Lin Erdman, CNN
updated 8:47 PM EDT, Sun May 4, 2014
Sewol ferry captain Lee Joon-Seok was acquitted of murder, avoiding a death sentence, but was sentenced to 36 years in jail on November 11 for his role in the maritime disaster that killed more than 300. Sewol ferry captain Lee Joon-Seok was acquitted of murder, avoiding a death sentence, but was sentenced to 36 years in jail on November 11 for his role in the maritime disaster that killed more than 300.
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(CNN) -- The death toll in the South Korean ferry disaster has jumped to 259, with 43 people still missing, the government reported Monday.

The higher death toll comes after bodies were retrieved from the fourth deck of the Sewol ferry, according to South Korea's Government Rescue Headquarters.

The search and rescue operation has turned into a grueling recovery of corpses. No one has been found alive since the ferry sank April 16, with a passenger load largely made up of high school students on a field trip.

The work has become even more difficult because divers have faced closed cabin doors blocked by debris, according to the semi-official Yonhap News Agency.

The ferry sank en route from Incheon to the resort island of Jeju, off the nation's southwestern coast.

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